Five Leaders Named by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to National Assessment Governing Board, Overseeing The Nation's Report Card

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Five Leaders Named by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to National Assessment Governing Board, Overseeing The Nation's Report Card

Current Member Terry Mazany Named Board Chair

October 7, 2014

Washington — A California fourth-grade teacher, Massachusetts school chief, Hawaii middle-school principal, Alabama eighth-grade teacher, and Michigan science center president have been appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board to serve four-year terms, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today. Sec. Duncan additionally appointed a new Board Chair—Terry Mazany, President and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust and a Board member since 2012.

The appointees will help set policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as The Nation's Report Card. NAEP makes objective information on student performance available to policymakers and the public at the national, state and local levels for nearly a dozen subjects. NAEP has served an important role in evaluating the condition and progress of American education since 1969. The 26-member Governing Board—a group of governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators and researchers, business representatives and members of the general public—determines subjects and content to be tested, sets the achievement levels for reporting, and releases the results to the public.

The appointees include one returning member—Shannon Garrison, who teaches fourth grade in Los Angeles and was first appointed to the Board in 2010—and four new members who include Mitchell Chester, the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; Frank Fernandes, a middle-school principal in Hawaii; Tonya Matthews, Michigan Science Center President and CEO; and Chasidy White, a social studies teacher in Alabama. Their terms officially began Oct. 1, 2014, and will end on Sept. 30, 2018.

New Board Chair Mazany oversees one of the nation's largest community foundations, which provides grants to nonprofit organizations to improve metropolitan Chicago in areas that include economics, education, health, human services, and the arts. He previously served numerous roles in education, including the interim superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, and is also a member of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Mazany replaces outgoing Board Chair and former Massachusetts Commissioner of Education David Driscoll.

"I'm delighted to welcome an outstanding mix of experts to help guide the work of The Nation's Report Card. From the front lines in the classroom to the state leadership level, they each bring valuable experiences to help inform the discussion about how best to measure the progress of American education," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "For almost a half-century, the National Assessment for Educational Progress has been our yardstick for student achievement in this country, and the insight of these new board members will be key to continuing this important work."

The new and reappointed Board members and the categories they represent are elaborated below:

  • Mitchell Chester (Winchester, Mass.; chief state school officer): The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education for Massachusetts since 2008, Chester began his career as an elementary school teacher in Connecticut, and later served as a middle school assistant principal and district curriculum coordinator. He moved to the Connecticut Department of Education, where he oversaw curriculum and instructional programs. In 1997, he was named the Executive Director for Accountability and Assessment for the School District of Philadelphia, where he headed the offices of Assessment, Research and Evaluation, Student and School Progress, and Pupil Information Services. In 2001, Chester served as the Senior Associate Superintendent for Policy and Accountability for the Ohio Department of Education, where he oversaw standards, assessments, accountability, policy development, and strategic planning. He has served as a consultant to states and districts regarding curriculum and instruction, teacher evaluation, student achievement, and assessment and accountability.

  • Shannon Garrison (Los Angeles; fourth-grade teacher): A fourth-grade teacher at Los Angeles' Solano Avenue Elementary School since 1997, Garrison is the chair of the Board's Assessment and Development Committee, which reviews and approves all NAEP questions that appear on the assessments students take. She also serves on the Board's Executive Committee. In her educator role, Garrison has served in many capacities, including as a problem-solving data coordinator, bilingual and Title I program coordinator, writing coordinator, science lead teacher and member of the language appraisal and student success teams. She is a National Board certified teacher, and has written winning applications for the National Blue Ribbon School and California Distinguished School programs. Garrison also received a Milken National Educator Award in 2008.

  • Frank Fernandes (Honolulu; secondary school principal) Following more than seven years of teaching high school, Fernandes became vice principal of Kaimuki, Kalani, and Henry J. Kaiser high schools in Hawaii. Starting in August 1986, he began his current role leading Kaimuki Middle. At the Honolulu school, Fernandes has overseen numerous initiatives, including a more rigorous achievement test based on Common Core State Standards, a new teacher induction and mentoring program, a teacher and administrator evaluation system that uses multiple points of data, and a comprehensive student support system. Fernandes has also served in numerous other roles including president of the Hawaii Association of Middle Schools and on-site trainer to entering vice principals. Under his leadership, Kaimuki Middle has received several awards, including the State Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. In 2012, he was honored as MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals State Principal of the Year.

  • Tonya Matthews (Detroit; general public representative): As the Detroit-based Michigan Science Center President and CEO, Matthews oversees a facility that provides science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and experiences for children and young adults. She has a varied background and her major positions have included vice president of museums at the Cincinnati Museum Center, biomedical engineer for the Food and Drug Administration, project director for the Maryland Science Center, and bioscience curriculum developer for Project Lead the Way. Matthews has also served as an adjunct professor, education coach, reviewer and consultant for numerous colleges, universities and groups. Her accomplishments include overseeing the creation of Girls in Real Life Science Program at the Cincinnati Museum Center to promote interest in STEM education and career choices and a program for the Maryland Science Center that brought biomedical laboratory experiences to inner-city students in Baltimore.

  • Chasidy White (Brookwood, Ala.; eighth-grade teacher): White has taught eighth-grade world history and geography at Brookwood Middle for 10 years, and serves on the Tuscaloosa County School System's ESL (English as a Second Language) County Committee and Curriculum Committee. Earlier this year, she won "Overall Teacher of the Year" from Tuscaloosa County Schools, and in 2012, won the University of Alabama's Harold L. Bishop Award for Outstanding Leader In Education. White's career has also involved state and international policy. In 2012, Governor Robert Bentley appointed her to be a member of his Teacher Cabinet for Education Policy. That same year, White was selected as the only U.S. teacher to develop and teach curriculum at the Bumi Sehat Youth Center in Indonesia, and she also studied educational policy in Rwanda. In 2013, she was selected from a nationwide pool of applicants to research policies regarding peace education in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

The members take office as the Governing Board is involved in several initiatives, including the first-ever Technology and Engineering Literacy assessment with results that will be released in 2015; a move to computer-based NAEP assessments; research on 12th-grade academic preparedness for higher education and job training; outreach efforts to inform parents, educators, and policymakers about NAEP; and a nationwide assessment literacy initiative.

"It is a pleasure to see an incredible group of individuals with a committed sense of leadership and impressive accomplishments. Their vast experience will be a significant contribution to our efforts," said Governing Board Executive Director Cornelia Orr. "I am excited for the energy these members will bring to maintain NAEP as the gold standard of assessment."

More information about the Governing Board can be found at More information about The Nation's Report Card can be found at

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The National Assessment Governing Board is an independent, bipartisan board whose members include governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives, and members of the general public. Congress created the 26-member Governing Board in 1988 to oversee and set policy for NAEP.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only nationally representative, continuing evaluation of the condition of education in the United States. It has served as a national yardstick of student achievement since 1969. Through The Nation's Report Card, NAEP informs the public about what America's students know and can do in various subject areas, and compares achievement between states, large urban districts, and various student demographic groups.